It seems many of my recent posts have begun with a form of apology for not writing about something sooner. Same thing today.
A month ago I briefly mentioned that five Gryphon coaches had been part of the coaching staffs of the Team Ontario Selects that travelled to Austin, TX to be part of the International Bowl. Guelph Special Teams & Recruiting Coordinator Bill Brown was the head coach of the U-17 team. His offensive coordinator was Guelph “Show Team” Coach Alex Derma. The U-19 squad had three Gryphon coaches. Guelph LB Coach Adam Grandy was the defensive coordinator while Guelph’s Brian Cluff and Mike MacDonald were the team’s d-line and o-line coaches.
“We got a little panicky there in the first half toward the end, and we learned to settle down and take a deep breath,” Canada head coach Bill Brown said. “You can’t take away that ending and the excitement. We told the guys it was going to be an uphill battle, but we told the guys: As long as we stay with it, we’ll enjoy the view.”
“They came down here for the experience, to be introduced to American football,” Brown said. “They never stopped going. I’m just going to tell them, ‘Thank you.’ They gave me everything they had in a state that’s foreign to them and into a game that’s a little foreign to them.”
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How, you may ask, did so many Guelph coaches get involved with the Team Ontario Selects? Well, Football Ontario sent out notices to every team in the OUA plus all the OVFL and OFC programs. The only OUA coaches to respond were those from Guelph and a couple from Carleton. [Bill Brown did recruit Mac’s Rob Underhill to be his defensive coordinator.] Head Coach Stu Lang actively encouraged his coaches to participate in this opportunity, as he does with other all-star teams and summer leagues.
While the Team O coaches are there to teach and coach, and are not permitted to recruit, it does give them an opportunity to get to know players and thoroughly evaluate them. Both of those things should pay future dividends. The participation of Gryphon coaches and recruiters at many different try-outs for various allstar teams and Team O is part of why Guelph has experienced such recruiting success in recent years. But it is a two-way street as young players get the benefit of tutoring from college coaches and find that Brown, Cluff, MacDonald et al, are coaches that they want to play for.
For recruiting purposes Coach Lang and intern Mike Aloisio also made the trip to Texas. Aloisio is an interesting story. He is a McMaster grad who is currently enrolled in the Sports Management Program at Brock University. Last year Aloisio approached Stu Lang about working as an intern with the team in 2012, but he has proved himself to be valuable to the program well beyond his role as an intern. Aloisio, who has coached with the Hamilton Ironmen and has additional training as a scout and talent evaluator, did advance opponent scouting for the team in 2012. He has become a valuable member of the Gryphon recruiting team and spent a week recruiting in BC last fall.
The trip to Austin was also a professional development activity for the Gryphon coaches as they had the opportunity to tour the Texas Longhorns football facilities, their stadium and meet with several Longhorn coaches. DL Coach Brian Cluff made a connection with his Texas counterpart and made a second visit to share coaching insights. Coach Lang reportedly came away with several ideas for Alumni Stadium.